Hernán Cattáneo defines 2018 as the best year of his career. Even considering that back in 2004, the DJ occupied the sixth slot of the Top 100 DJs poll by DJ Magazine, the British electronic music publication — and that throughout the first decade of the new millennium, he was also the best DJ in Latin America.
But Cattáneo is right: The Argentine house producer’s peak popularity came with the four sold-out shows at Buenos Aires’ iconic opera house Teatro Colón during the summer of 2018, to the point that there was talk of a “Cattáneomanía.”
Everything came together in his sold-out show at the Campo Argentino de Polo, where he performed for more than 12,000 people, and which became the inspiration for his next album, Balance Presents Sunsetstrip. Then, at the end of June this year, he performed at the massive British festival Glastonbury with his colleague and friend Nick Warren at a B2B.
He almost blushes when compared to Argentine ambassadors such as Lionel Messi or Emanuel Ginóbili. Though different in popularity and net worth, his figure, like that of these two elite athletes, represents that of people dedicated to their passion — that despite money and fame, always kept their discipline and values. Electronic music is linked to parties and excesses, but vices did not make a dent in Cattáneo’s determination.
“Maybe, when I was 18 or 20 years old, which were the moments where I could have been tempted, I was already very excited and crazy about music. I worked full time as a DJ. I did not have time even to look for that side,” he recalls to Billboard Argentina.
“Alcohol and drugs are things that kids look for because they still do not have something that motivates them. Sometimes, it can be a way to fill a hole. I was already feeling whole with what I was doing. Also, what I was doing was not very successful at that time, and I was excited about the idea of making it grow.”
Cattáneo began to share music as a teenager during the explosion of the disco scene at the beginning of the ’80s. “DJs were not even in the flyers of the party,” he explains.
House music in Argentina was still yearning, and it was not until the early ’90s that a small circuit was created. “Instead of going to play football, I spent the day in the Cinema club practicing hooks for Saturday to have a better set. Something like the footballer who is practicing free-kicks after training.”
You are 54 years old, you could have been gentrified. Why do you need to remain a DJ when you could be an executive?
First, I love what I do. I’m passionate about this. It is mainly what brought me here. On Sundays, as a kid, I would listen to the rankings, look for the U.S. Billboard and look at the charts, look for records everywhere, spend all my money on music. That passion is what brought me here. All the DJs that reach a certain level made it because they were passionate about it.
When we started, it was not like now that there are more tools. If you were going to dedicate yourself to be a DJ, you were going to have a pretty hippie life, and happy for your love of music, but you were not going to earn a single buck. It was not the glamorous life that many people imagine with today’s DJs. But now there is a scene, and there are DJs who are stars.
You are working on a new album, what can we expect?
Bearing in mind that the album will be heard in different places — that is, not only at night — I liked the idea of expanding the panorama. The first part is slower, softer, will go to 110 bpm, and the second will go to 122 bpm, which is the classic club speed.
It’s called Sunsetstrip because it’s inspired by the shows we did at the Polo Field in Argentina and in Punta del Este, which are parties that start during the day and end at night. At the beginning, it is more melodic and cinematic, with some vocals and many effects. Later, it is more like listening to me in a nightclub on a Saturday night anywhere in the world.